Week 7: Persuasion

“Technology is a glittering lure, but there’s the rare occasion when the public can be engaged on a level beyond flash - if they have a sentimental bond with the product.”  - Don Draper (MadMen)

For our final choose-your-own-adventure topic, the class selected persuasion and propaganda in digital storytelling.  This is another very broad topic that we could take in any number of directions, including digital profiling, fake news, mass media, digital marketing, learner motivation, and even - teaching itself.  What are the differences between persuading, marketing, and teaching?  

Consider this definition:

per·suad·ing /pərˈ swād iNG/
mar·ket·ing  /ˈmär kəd iNG/
ed·u·cat·ing  /ˈejə kāt iNG/
the act of shaping another’s beliefs or perspective to achieve a desired outcome
leveraging presentation and storytelling to induce behavior or agreement

It’s a thin line.

And given the fact that this is such a broad topic and the line between our worlds is so thin, I’ve chosen to focus this week as a case study on the masters of persuasion, propaganda, and storytelling - Marketing & Advertising.  Their motives are different than educators, but their techniques and insights about human motivation and society - are beyond reproach and worth examination.   Educators should take note.

be·hav·ior·al ec·o·nom·ics    /bəˈhāvyərəl/  /ˌekəˈnämiks /
a method of economic analysis that applies psychological insights into human behavior to explain economic decision-making

There are a number of thought leaders that I admire in this field including Seth Godin, Rory Sutherland, Nancy Duarte, and Daniel Pink. Each of these fine folks has a distinct focus on storytelling as a means of shaping human behavior or selling ideas.  Each is brilliant in their own right.  Before we get to that, I’d like us to take a look at how marketing leverages the digital space to achieve their goals and to consider how modern day Mad Men operate.  So, let’s take a  quick look at big-data-profiling and transmedia storytelling.


Marketers know us, often better than we know ourselves.

Transmedia Storytelling

Marketers engage us across a spectrum of media as co-creators of the narrative.

Affect is Persuasion

Marketers innately understand and leverage the power of human nature.

"Only 5 % remembered any statistic, while 63% of students remembered the story."

Tip of the Iceberg

The marketing and advertising industry are masters of human behavior - data collection, analysis, manipulation, and motivation. Educators have a remarkably different mission, but remarkably similar methods.  We all use the emotional affect of storytelling to present and "sell" ideas - to influence others.   Marketing has successfully done this at-scale across the mediascape, while education remains quite dormant and reserved.  I maintain that marketers are powerful educators; and educators SHOULD be better marketers.   The difference, I believe was touched upon in Module 2 where we explored the recipe -  style, media, tone, cadence, and context -  loaded with affect.  This is the packaging that should surround the facts we attempt to teach.  This is marketing.  

Facts Aren't Enough

When we believe something strongly, no amount of data or facts can change our minds.  This Hidden Brain episode explores the psychology of belief systems, persuasion, and behavioral motivation.  I found the notion of brain-synch as it relates to storytelling and affect to be fascinating.  


As educators we are a bit more focused on motivation as we not only want learners to learn; we want them to like it and analyze it. We want them to want to learn.   We understand that it is less about content-transfer and more about critical-thinking and cognition. So what motivates a learner to want to learn?  Especially if they are struggling with a subject.  How do we persuade them to persevere?  To have grit?  

Rather than leveraging the carrot or stick methods of gold-stars or grade-threats; how else can we motivate students?

This Week's Tasks
  1. Read & watch all of the above.  There are no external articles this week. Instead please annotate this page - answer any questions I have for you and share your own thoughts.

  2. Begin planning and/or building your Digital Story (3). This one requires 3 forms of media mashed into a single story - this will be due by Wednesday July 31st.

  3. Explore one or more of the following MadMen - Seth Godin, Rory Sutherland, Nancy Duarte, or Daniel Pink. Find something awesome and something releveant to our field of study and make your pitch to the class. Why is your resource worthy? Dazzle and persuade us with your selection in the Marketing Guru Bibliography. Tell us how this resource connects to INTE5340 and persuade us that it is worthy of our precious attention.

  4. Begin planning and/or thinking about your Final Reflection. This one will be similar to the first - taking inventory of your learning experiences in this course. You might begin thinking, writing, and reflection - this is due by Sunday August 4th.

  5. Smile and complete the Weekly-Thing, posted to Slack on Wednesday.

  6. Once you've done all you plan to do for the week, complete the Check-In for Week 7 to claim your points.

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About Brad Hinson

Teller of stories; drinker of coffee; father of kids; tinkerer of tools; geek. I am an SEHD Assistant Dean, an LDT Instructor, and a ThinqStudio Director @ CU Denver.
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